We were riding to Everest, or perhaps we had already been there.
My notes of the trip are full of notes such as, ‘Day 7 – Which is actually day 9’, Qomolangla hotel, 6.00AM start’ ‘Day 11, which is also now day 9’ and ‘Day 4 – Actually day 10, Youlong Hotel Shannan, 180Km’. Perhaps it was the altitude combined with the changing route map, but on the day in question we were at Namsto Lake. No doubt about that, I could see it and it was snowing.
We had a long ride over a high pass to get there, a similar altitude to base camp and the prospect of now retracing that route in the snow was food for thought. We had ridden through a snowstorm in Tingri which reduced visibility to nil and progress to walking pace as the road disappeared before our eyes and which resulted in the widespread panic buying of yak muffs (also one pair of yak chaps as I recall). It looked as if we may be in for a repeat performance. I brushed away the snow from my Beneli 600, ideally fitted out for the conditions with a racing steering damper, crash bungs and adjustable sports suspension. I pulled on an eighth layer and was now wearing everything I had with me. We fired up and headed out for the switchback ride up to the summit.
When we came over the top of the pass, the sun came out and the clouds disappeared. We were in the middle of a totally white mountain landscape. It was beautiful. After a while, heading back down the pass on the other side the road began steaming as the sun warmed it, adding the surreal sensation of riding through cloud. To the right I noticed the only colour, a black snaking line, which distilled into a yak caravan as I got nearer, I coasted to a stop to watch it pass. After switching the engine off the silence was oppressive – it seemed to have weight. The only noise was the sound of hundreds of yaks moving through the fresh snow. It was spellbinding.
At the end of the caravan was a woman with a baby on her back and a yak keeping close to her as she walked past smiling and returning my wave. She was carrying a new born yak which she said was two hours old. We stood for a moment, the mother, her baby, the yak and its calf, in a moment that was removed from time, sound and the everyday world. It was truly magical and a moment I could never forget. The herd continued walking on, the mother and her baby followed but turned smiling and waving as they left. I stood on the spot for some time watching them go.
SIMON’S ADVENTURE TIP
Take your shades off before riding into a tunnel. I wish someone had given me this tip.
ABOUT ‘ADVENTURER’S TALES’
A compilation of recollections in celebration of 10 years of Adventure Ashram, ‘Adventurer’s Tales’ is a true celebration of a decade of purposeful adventure by our charity partner Adventure Ashram, a small but mighty charity.
Complete with some great adventure tips, it not only provides handy pointers for when out ‘on the road’, but also some thought-provoking insights into the heart and spirit of adventure. Written with humour, passion and integrity, this wonderful book is a fine tribute to 10 years of Adventure Ashram. Click here to buy a copy.
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